Home / West Virginia Chemical Spill Disaster Causes Tap Water Ban

West Virginia Chemical Spill Disaster Causes Tap Water Ban

A Charleston, West Virginia chemical spill disaster causes tap water ban.  300,000 people are said to be affected along the Elk River.

Residents were told that not even boiling the water would remove the chemicals.  They must not use it for drinking, cooking, or bathing- only fire emergencies and flushing.

West Virginia Chemical Spill Disaster Causes Tap Water Ban

West Virginia Chemical Spill Disaster Causes Tap Water Ban

The Elk River in Charleston, West Virginia before the disaster.

It is still unknown how as many as 5,000 gallons of chemicals leaked into the river.  An investigation is currently underway.

The contamination was noticed by the West Virginia American Water Supply when the water began sending a licorice or cough syrup like smell through the surrounding streets.  The chemical is said to be 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, which is used in the froth flotation process of coal washing and preparation.

Once the warning was issued, complete chaos errupted in stores.  People stripped shelves of bottled water, cups, and bowls.

Governer Earl Gray Tomblin of West Virginia declared in a statement on Thursday,  “West Virginians in the affected service areas are urged NOT to use tap water for drinking, cooking, washing or bathing.  Right now, our priorities are our hospitals, nursing homes, and schools.  I’ve been working with our National Guard and Office of Emergency Services in an effort to provide water and supplies through the county emergency services offices as quickly as possible.”

Symptoms of exposure can include severe burning in throat, severe eye irritation and skin irritation,  vomiting, or trouble breathing.  Anyone experiencing symptoms is advised to rinse the affected area, get ventilation, and seek medical care.

Photo courtesy of Tim Kiser, via Wikipedia.org.

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